Friday, February 18, 2011

What we don't say can still hurt

I've been loosely following the story of the teacher Natalie Munroe who posted negative comments about her students on her blog. I've read posts about it on Facebook, followed some comment threads and watched a blurb from Good Morning America where she defended her actions.
She claims she has never said any of those things to her students.
I was disturbed by her attitude, but equally so by some of the comments on those posts from other teachers defending her.
One of Natalie Munroe's comments was, "There's no other way to say this, I hate your kid."
I read over the comments people left and began to think, OK, maybe they have a point. I'm not a teacher and don't know what it's like to do it on a daily basis.
So today I talked to Sean's teacher and asked her if she was following this story. She hadn't heard about it. I didn't give her specific comments because Sean was there as we talked, but told her the comments were very negative.
I asked what she thought, because I don't know what it's like to be in a classroom every day. And I know she has been struggling to maintain order in the classroom lately.
She was saddened by what I was telling her and said this woman should not be a teacher.
We talked about how facial expressions, body language, everything is conveyed to the children and they know even without you saying it.

I've been praying for her this week. She was having a hard time with one student and I have spent time in the classroom and know the struggles that child is having, and bringing into the room. She was frustrated and not sure what to do. Everything she had tried was not working. We talked about how there had to be an unmet need there, and she was trying to figure out what it could be.
Today she said they have had a great week and he is working on a behavior plan. He makes a goal for himself and when he reaches that goal he gets to choose what he would like to do, such as go to a special place and read a book. She said it is working, and she is pleased.
God Bless all the teachers who take the job seriously and try their best every day to be the best they can be to every child in their classroom.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Working with a young author and an illustrator

Last month I dropped Sean off at his classroom door and a couple of boys in his class asked if I would help them by editing their book. They said they were writing a book, and they want to get it published. They knew I was an editor, and wondered if I could take a look.
I promised to come back the following Monday and do just that.

These boys are in second grade. They collaborated on this book, compromised, and came up with a story. One is the author, the other the illustrator. The illustrations were images he found of clip art and photographs, but he had to do the work to search for those illustrations that would best convey the meaning of the words on each page.

They met with me after I had a chance to look at it, and I went over each page and why I made my marks. It was amazing to listen to them talk about their book and how serious they are about publishing it. They also bickered over the content, and the illustrator commented that if he were writing it he would have worded some things differently. The author said, "Yeah, but you're always asking how to spell, and that's why you're the illustrator."

They both asked me if I knew of a publisher who would publish it for them. I explained that newspapers are a little different from book publishing, and publishing can be quite expensive. I offered alternatives, like using regular copy paper and binding it with a notebook type cover, but they weren't going for it. They wanted a hard bound copy with a spine.

Then they decided they needed an agent. They asked if I knew any agents that would be their agent. I didn't, but encouraged them to keep going with their idea. They plan to make a pretty big book, and talked about how they have to finish it this year because the illustrator is moving in the summer and won't be returning to the school.

As I left they were planning the next chapter and talking about how to find a publisher.
I just love the freedom of Montessori. These boys are free to explore their passion and spend time learning and working on something they love to do. I see so many lessons in what they were doing, not the least of which is collaboration and compromise.